Agents of Fortune
, Blue Oyster Cult's fourth studio album, is where the band got their big break, mainly due to the massively successful single (Don't Fear) The Reaper
. Blue Oyster Cult have been consistently been releasing albums throughout the 70's, 80's and even into the 90's; This album falls right in the middle of their 1970's run being released in May of 1976. While they were still known to a certain degree before the release of this album with their three previous records: the self titled debut Blue Oyster Cult
(1972), Tyranny and Mutation
(1973) and Secret Treaties
(1974), this album gave them much more recognition and air play and ultimately, success commercially. Blue Oyster Cult, known for their dark, creepy and sometimes haunting lyrics with their hard rock sound with elements of progressive rock and metal while experimenting with pop as well (more so on this record), deliver all that and more on Agents of Fortune
. This, like their first three records, is another solid album from BOC. The album contains various lead singers (all band members still) on songs as oppose to regular lead singer Eric Bloom all the time which can get confusing such because sometimes I'm not quite sure who is singing. To add to all the vocals, Patti Smith, who has helped with BOC lyrics on previous albums, and entirely wrote The Revenge of Vera Gemini
, lends her voice in the song.
Agents of Fortune begins with a BOC classic, This Ain't the Summer of Love
. It's a straight up rock song with crunching guitars, some excellent vocals by Bloom and a great guitar solo from Dharma. Bloom sings some strange lyrics in the chorus where he says: "This ain't the Garden of Eden; there ain't no angels above; and things ain't what they used to be; and this ain't the summer of love"
. The only downside to this song is that I feel it is way to short clocking in at only 2:20, making it the shortest song on the album. Nevertheless, it is an effective song and a great way to start the album. Track number two on AoF is the piano driven song True Confessions
. This is the only song sung by Al Ranier, who wrote it as well. I'd have to say this is my least favorite on the album. The vocals do not standout and the song is overly poppy. It does however feature a cool saxophone solo. A bit of a let down but that"s ok, because this next song will make you forget you just heard this song.
(Don't Fear) The Reaper
is up next, and my vote for best on the album. It was also the bands first top forty hit. This song was huge then and is still played on rock radio today. From the opening melodic riff to the creepy solo, this song is amazing. Dharma sings this one and delivers an excellent vocal performance. Yes, this song was immortalized on SNL with the 'Needs More Cowbell' skit and catch phrase with Walken and Farrell, but if you look past that, the cowbell is actually effective in the song. The overall feel to the song is like a mix between mid tempo rock and hard rock in the solo, but all adds up to an amazing song and sometimes gives me chills when I listen to it. Dharma also wrote excellent lyrics which suits the music very well. The lyrics are very mysterious and dark with it dealing with death as he sings: "It came the last night of sadness, and it was clear that she couldn't go on; And the door was open and the wind appeared; the candles blew and disappeared; the curtains flew and then he appeared saying don't be afraid"
. E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)
is the only song written by producer Sandy Pearlman. Dharma co-writes the song as well as sings it as his second of two contributions to the album. The song is another standout track, with its opening catchy guitar riff and its chanting chorus. The best part of the song is the awesome solo, probably the best on the record, maybe only next to The Reaper.
Following E.T.I. is Patti Smith's contribution to the album and her first fully credited song with the band. The Revenge of Vera Gemini
begins after Patti has a few words, than goes into a bluesy, mellow song with Patti doing a good job on backing vocals. This song again features some solid guitar work. In general, a good song and a nice change of pace as oppose to E.T.I. Sinful Love
begins the second half of the record. The vocals sound different on this track as it is the first of a Bouchard brother to sing. It is very catchy song with piano under the guitar and the somewhat high pitched group vocals in the chorus. It doesn't stand out compared to the rest, but keeps the album flowing. Tattoo Vampire
brings back the hard rock after two softer songs. It begins with some screeching guitar until Eric Bloom starts singing the verse with intensity. The drumming is what stands out to me the most here. An excellent rock song and one of my favorites on the album. Following Tattoo Vampire', is Morning Final
, one of the more pop sounding songs on the album. It is much more calm than Tattoo Vampire, but still well done. The group vocals works well on this song. The second last song on AoF is Tenderloin
. The keyboard is most noticeable on this track. Eric Bloom takes the vocals here and does a great job, as usual. Debbie Denise
closes the album on a slower note. However, it is my favorite of the slower songs. It has a steady beat throughout the song and has some nice vocals in the chorus especially. A very nice way to end out a great album.
Overall, this album is very solid, all the way through. It has a nice blend of hard rock songs as well as some softer ones. Not only is it their most successful record commercially, I think it is one of their best releases to date and I would recommend it if you if you are into classic rock. In 2001, Columbia Records reissued all BOC albums and added four bonus tracks to the record such as previously unreleased recordings and different versions of songs, including a different version of The Reaper. If you have bought the album recently, it could have some bonus tracks. Either way, Agents of Fortune
is a solid record and one worth listening to at least checking out.
Blue Oyster Cult on Agents of Fortune
Eric Bloom: Vocals/Guitar
Donald 'Buck Dharma' Roeser: Vocals/Guitar/Synthesizer
Joe Bouchard: Bass/Vocals/Piano
Albert Bouchard: Drums/Vocals/Acoustic Guitar
Allan Lanier: Vocals/Keyboards/Guitar
This Ain't the Summer of Love
(Don't Fear) The Reaper
E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)